・:* l o n e l i w i s h 

Entry # : 015
Title   : 11 Things
Time    : 4.18.24

  1. My grampa died two nights ago.
  2. I leaned against the wall of the second story of my childhood home, staring out the tall, staircase window at a colorful evening. I felt there the new emptiness of my grandfather rushing through the sky's emptiness like a huge ghost searching for something it will never find.
  3. I went outside and stared as the sky continued losing its color, turning black. I heard a crow laugh a strange, delighted laugh as it skittered across a flat rooftop.
  4. I had the very clear thought : “I am unhappy.”
  5. I went indoors, looked at nothing, felt a trickle of guilt.
  6. I realized that, from now on, when a piece of fiction or a movie or a person mentions a grandfather, I can for the first time think “I do not have one of those, and I never will again.”
  7. Rae called me at our appointed time. We have been calling with regularity, which is unusual for us, the purpose being to make sure I'm on staying track for surgery. I am leaving tomorrow, I told her, and my grandfather died tonight. Could there be a connection between these two facts ? I wondered stupidly aloud.
  8. I felt I was betraying my grief’s call to solitude, even as we discussed the subject openly. I continued betraying a while, maybe to feel something familiar, but my feelings were dimmed by the activity, and I told her it was best to be alone now and we hung up.
  9. I drove to NorCal, leaving at 10:30am and finally getting settled at the rental at 9:30pm. Kind of a mind-expanding drive down a two-lane highway : the factories of meat and nothing amid hours and hours of hills in Aprilgreen. The world seemed like a fuzzy, enormous creature, and I monitored the sun as it fell.
  10. Today I went into the city for my pre-op. The city is beautiful and scary the way huge columns full of people are always at least a little scary. I really enjoyed driving in narrow loops through the towering parking garage, like a marble in a plastic tube.
  11. I did not visit my grandfather when he was dying, even though my parents really pushed me to, and even though Rae offered her opinion that it would have been the better choice. Maybe I'm overfull with grief from Caroline's death ; maybe it was Obsessive infectionfear that led me to avoid the bedside gathering of pre-emptive mourners ; or maybe I was just too damn stressed. Either way, lately I have been thinking I dont want to be a good person ; I want to find my own way to live and accept that it will differ meaningfully from what others generally think of as best. Because the soul is so huge, I know there are other honorable things to discover outside of the typical prescriptions. I am not discarding the idea of goodness, but expanding my idea of it so that it can include my own soul. I want to find and grow what is good there.

Entry # : 014
Title   : Bones
Time    : 4.10.24
Listning: "Skeleton Appreciation Day" by Will Wood

The Christmas season of my 17th year, what with the persistent suicidality of my best friend, the recent ending of a two-year-long relationship with Liam, and my ensuing graduation, my mind had become fixed on the transience of things. I was also perennially short on sleep out of a childish misunderstanding of my body : I wanted to experience life for as long as I could and thought annexing some wakinghours from the latenight would be the simplest way to go about it. These days, those decisions long behind me, I’m still dealing with what may well be the long-range parasomniac fallout, but that’s another story.

For now, it’s 2015 winter and I’m at a Christmas banquet, sitting at a table with friends, including Liam and Rae — though she and I would not begin dating till the summer of the next year. There had been White Elephant and Chinese catering and someone at the table was clownishly pushing a little action figure around in their plate of chow mein. I walked outside and a friend trailed me and I spilled my guts while pacing, walking fast through the SoCal cold, aimless as a cloud. I had this feeling like running barefoot after our dalmation the time she got out, calling her name through the overcast and empty streets : invigoration, fear, care. I told my friend how, in that Community Center, dense with smiling laughter, I was having a sort of vision I couldn’t shake. How I imagined everyone as the skeletons they were underneath going through the same motions. How I had read the Ikkyū poem on the theme. This really bothered me : the thought that we were, in some sense, all already dead via inevitability and retroactivity.

On Thanksgiving years after, having finished the traditionary drumstick, I found myself appreciating the bone of it as a beautiful and sad thing. Over and over I stared at it, and ran my fingers over it. “I liked this skeleton . . . He saw things clearly, just as they are,” — Ikkyū. I pictured the life of the pheasant it might have belonged to. After dinner, I ran some hot water in the sink and brushed away the stubborn ligament. My mother seemed displeased as I washed it, but is she so different ? Still today she keeps up a triptych of dead pets that saddens me more than that turkey’s bone ever did. I kept the bone on my windowsill for a year or so.

One day my dog pointed out the remains of a possum behind our suburban hedge. It must have been dead and in the soil for quite some time, as it was basically a pelt with skin, tendons, and bones. I donned gloves and removed the bones, which I deposited in a thermos I filled up with a chemical solution, to clean them, to take care of them, to make them prettier. This was harder than I'd imagined. Though there had been the exhilarating rush of adrenaline, I mostly found the task in front of me repulsive and upsetting, as well as plain sad — the tiny paw of the creature had an obvious, miserable pathos. I paused many times, overwhelmed with my disgust, which seemed to possess a moral dimension. As Mary Shelley put it in Frankenstein, “I pursued nature to her hiding-places. Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave . . . ?” I showered right afterwards with a thoroughness.

Finding out about it, my parents were worried about me, and disturbed. They told me never to do something like that again in their house. I don’t think they understood my conflicted feelings about what I’d done. In the end, I just got rid of the thermos altogether.

Late at night Hen and I walked around the neighborhood. We ended up sat in a little park on a stone bench. I told Hen about the possum bones, feeling misunderstood. He was more sympathetic to my parents than I’d expected. He said, in a voice that was neither gentle nor firm, “You can’t expect others to understand you about things like that. Even knowing you for a long time, even with your explanation, it’s a difficult thing for me to wrap my head around.” Hearing it expressed that way struck an emotional chord with me. I felt tender and reflective. It is important to be compassionate toward others, consider how my words will make them feel. I can't expect others to understand me.

Still, I feel stifled by attitudes around death. As someone who has hugged the corpse of her best friend, this culture can make me feel so alone.

Lately I’ve felt connected to myself in Vashti’s writing. In one of her diary entries, she wrote how, given you only have one life, isn’t it sad to imagine never ever feeling bad again, not once ? My grief is not something to be cured. It’s one of the ways I feel the contours of my soul. I know myself in bones, too.

Entry # : 013
Title   : Birthday, Daylight
Time    : 3.22.24

Written at various times, posted now.

For Mia’s birthday weekend she and Rae and I went to Downtown Santa Ana, had afternoon tea ( so so tasty ), and watched Kadocha and the fanime Ghost Club. It was also in the continuing spirit of Mia's birthday that, two weekends later, the three of us had plans to visit Little Tokyo. We also ended up stopping at a cat café. That same night was daylight savings, & we'd happened to stay up until the moment of the time-change, so I poured some glasses of lukewarm cranberry juice, and we clinked our glasses to celebrate. It tasted bad, bitter — appropriate for losing an hour of sleep.

But my favorite memory from this period was : after coffee and tea in DTSA, so hopped up on caffeine, we played that game where you hit balloons back and forth to try to keep them from touching the ground, except there were way more balloons than there were people. All the while we had really lively music going on like the 4 Non Blondes remix on Return of the Rave and "Triple Baka." We played like this for a good while, like the time we practiced three-person juggling. The next day I felt fine, but the day after I was so sore I had to limp.

Entry # : 012
Title   : Warmspring
Time    : 3.12.24
Listning: "White Fur" by Dear Nora

As I awoke the morning of March 8, short of breath from disordered sleep, slow in thought and movement, I made an aimless prayer. I ended up mouthing something about how I lack a sense of control. As soon as my complaint had formed, I felt a solution bubble up : to exert control over my body in the form of exercise.

That afternoon, coincidentally, my mother asked if I wanted to go on a walk. Lately, due to my mother's less than perfect health, we've opted to take our strolls in the neighborhood more than usual. We traced a deformed loop through through the tract, passing into each blind alley. The dog tagged along like always. She said this was her favorite time of year, and I couldn’t disagree. It was the first of Spring's warm, sunny days after a chilly period of sporadic rain. I saw the strange and alien bloom of the aloe vera plant, lily of the desert. I spotted a perigrine falcon sat on a lamppost : the whitebrown mottle of feathers on its belly, yellowbeak, proud posture. Like the moon on its high perch, a photo couldn't own its loveliness. I first heard of them from a reading-comprehension section of a standardized test in elementary school.

This neighborhood is like a zoo, I thought, looking out on all the concrete, and the planters, those little wells of vegetation, considering the hawk. The thought gave me a sense of bittersweet appreciation. Innumerable bees patronized a jasmine tree. I'd never noticed this tree before. I stopped a moment to take it in, looking back and above me where the insects flew. I described the scent to my mother as soothing, smooth, creamy, with a hint of mystery. Though finding it sweet, she didn’t see the mystery in it.

The afternoon had been especially green and animalhaving. But still I wished for somewhere else, somewhere less paved over, with more greenery, more animals.

Entry # : 011
Title   : Iris Malikhân
Time    : 02.17.24
Listning: "My Dear Giant" by T.M.K.
I wish  : for understanding

Once I had a feeling that destiny was hugging me. Not that I don’t feel this way anymore, but, during one golden period, it happened really often and was oh-so intense. I’m going somewhere with this, trust me, but it's a circuitous and sylvan path to get there. A path littered, or decorated, with personal ghosts. If you'd like to travel with me, I'll happily show the way.

Growing up, I got shoved, kicked, made fun of, disciplined. I'm in first grade and my secondgrade friend and I kiss below the elevated landing of the playground. I think it will make us closer. We are seen, and seen as the wrong gender for one another, apparently. An adult figure of authority at the school reports what we did to our parents when they pick us up while we sit beneath them shyly altering a miniature cabin of Lincoln Logs. We've done something wrong, we must have, but they won't name it. No one will speak the word, but I know. And when afterschool I see a crush playing basketball and my cheeks flush, the word crush never crosses my mind. I'm his biggest fan, I tell my friends, feeling silly and lightheaded. And then I'm in fourth grade, playing with others I have hardly said a word to, and one of them calls me a faggot. I zone out. I wonder, What did I do wrong ? and Why don't they like me ? Over time I come to learn the answer and take it to heart.

One day my dad took me to the hairstylist and she, thinking I was a girl the entire time, gave me a girl's haircut. It was no big surprise that this might happen. I'd been growing my hair since kindergarten graduation. I liked having long hair. It made me look like myself, though I was too ashamed and unwise to say that meant looking like a girl. It took losing more of myself and my happiness to admit that. By 6th grade the bullying had become physical. Twice the same older, larger boy — a total stranger I had never spoken to — held me down against a shut locker so I could not move. I did not speak or fight back. I waited in silent embarassed frustration for him to release me. There were others around, hundreds, innumerable people flooding the halls, but no one said a word. Around the same time my math teacher pressured me to cut my hair in front of the whole watching class. So, feeling pushed into a corner, I followed his instruction. I changed my look from how I liked to what brought less trouble my way.

Years go by. Mirrors show a vessel distant eyes pilot. But I am safe here behind the cool metal spaceship of my body. "Drop the mirror and it breaks / Seven years, seven tears, seven different heavens." I grow sick with the servility of hiding. One town over I cry on the wild lawn before a steep bay where horses sometimes ride, weighing my curse. I saw one there once, duncolored, tall in the light as it passed, kicking up clouds that remained in air unreally long. Nothing like the things that stood preshow waiting, fetid in the dark of Medieval Times’ stables.

So I am cursed but if I am cursed then there is no choice and no reason to conceal or fight what I am better than cowardice. This is what I'm thinking then : Succumb.

Slowly I climbed my hiding pit, trembling with each tiny step. But I knew exactly the path to take now and I followed it. And when the world didn't flash evil teeth, I felt ecstasy, ecstasy. Things were different now. I could dress, speak, and act as I pleased. I was free. The kindness of others broke over me like sunlight, shattering the layers of frosted glass that had obscured my soul and melting the learned numbness of my heart. Wrapped in the embrace of fate or of god, I shoved my face in the bedsheets of the spare room, supressing strange animal laughter. This was my hardfought reward.

It's somewhere in Iris Malikhân. The gold world I was in when it came to me was the perfect time to receive it. It was the night of Tết festival and we'd eaten an incredible Cajun-inspired prawn pasta in the dark of the fairgrounds. Now Hen and I — full of food and sweets and bright lights — were sitting in the car outside, sampling testers. On first listen of Iris Malikhân, I was lost for words : Wow, oh, oh my god, I might have said. An image positioned itself at the front of my mind, a lucid vision. Despite my immense excitement, the vision itself was calm : I'm being carried along on my back by the current of a river that cuts through a mysterious and beautiful forest. Floating, swiftly and with ease, to where I'm meant to be. A symbol of a fate that loves me, leads me, and is, in a word, benevolent.

After taking in Iris Malikhân, the impression I have of life is shaped by it. For example, I thought of the scent in the moment of animal laughter I mentioned. It made a mark on me the same way as a novel that touches you deep inside. This destined, hugging feeling. It isn't something I could've understood as a kid. It's a feeling that depends on having traced the flow of my heart. I could wear Iris Malikhân on my wedding day.

Entry # : 010
Title   : Weather
Time    : 02.07.24
Listning: "Nightswimming" by R.E.M.
I wish  : for good sleep

Let's make small talk, light conversation amid heavy ( and expensive ) rain. After all, what better topic of light conversation is there than the weather ?

The last few days there has been quite the little tempest. Since our windows are being redone they're covered in these huge sheets of gray plastic whose violent flapping had the house itself aroar. A disc jockey I've heard on local radio since elementary school reported that there'd so far been "millions of dollars of damages related to the rain." Apparently portions of the major highway that describes the littoral edge of my city have been shut down for reasons of public safety. The whole thing brings to mind a portion of Joan Didion's piece on the Santa Ana winds :

Easterners commonly complain that there is no "weather" at all in Southern California, that the days and the seasons slip by relentlessly, numbingly bland. That is quite misleading. In fact the climate is characterized by infrequent but violent extremes: two periods of torrential subtropical rains which continue for weeks and wash out the hills and send subdivisions sliding toward the sea; about twenty scattered days a year of the Santa Ana, which, with its incendiary dryness, invariably means fire.

Rainstorms here can definitely possess a sort of subtropical flair. Watching the giant queen palms that extend many times higher than the rooves and stucco walls of my tract sway and strain under the weight of pluvial winds is an ecosystemically distinct sight with just that vibe to it, a vibe that's even more pronounced in the heat of summer.

Still, rain is so rare and often scant where I'm from that its happening feels like a remarkable and somehow uncharacteristic occurence, even though it falls with a certain regularity in terms of annular cycles as Didion says. You probably don't need me to tell you that when there's even a slight drizzle, Californians of the most exemplary bent will make sure to comment on it with either profound distaste or wideeyed wonder. I recognize myself in the second description. This general attitude on natural phenomena is a big part of what excites Rae and I about moving.

To show further what I mean by rainy weather having an "uncharacteristic" quality, the other day when I saw the evergreens of office parks and strip malls tremble under grey sky and rainfall, I felt like I'd been transported to the Pacific Northwest, even though I was just taking my typical route to work. Today on the same road I could see, clearly in the distance, Saddleback Mt capped with snow, looking more magnificent than usual.

Snow, north : this is the future I feel myself drawn into. Cold wind voice of Sufjan : it tells me something about my next steps, the place, the inner voice that leads me there. I'm supposed to be up higher in the latitudes, burning the wax of bees or animal fat amid subzero temps, where weather is a source of genuine, bona fide drama.

For now I like the rain I get. I like that it makes me feel damp as with exercise, like I should take a warm shower. Speaking of which, I should get some exercise and take a warm shower.

☐   ☐   ☐

On an unrelated note, I finished a poem today : a mini sonnetesque, three quatrains and a couplet — though the rest of its meter and rhyme is odd. At first I didn't like it as much, but I've come around to it.

Entry # : 009
Title   : Two dreams of my dead friend
Time    : 01.21.2024, 12:50PM
Listning: "Death With Dignity" by Sufjan

CW: Death, grief.

A lush, verdant field with a small alcove encarved in a cliff face. As far as the eye can see are gentle sloping hills and the rudimentary forms of redbrick walls only a few bricks high, calf-height, describing lanes and rooms ; but there is no pavement, no flooring anywhere, only grass sprouting, the brilliant green of technicolor. It seemed I lived here, in some roof-less house, having nothing, needing nothing, not food, not water, on the edge of a sketchy outline of an illogical and strangely empty town.

I left my house and made my way through a series of brick-lined paths and buildings until I came upon a long hall of the same construction. But as I entered it, I could see dozens of human figures composed only of grey shadows passing on either side, in a calm and steady rush like the crowd of a busy airport. It was as though they had been there the whole time, but only by being in this zone were they made visible to me.

As I left this zone, they disappeared again and I reached another bare part of town. I saw Caroline, maybe 20 years old, a couple years before her death, talking to a friend she hadn't seen in years, who sat in stony silence, leaning against the blastedout remnants of a structure of red brick.

Caroline spoke excitedly, but this friend of ours never made reply.

She said to this silent friend "I haven't seen you in so long!"

I told her: "But it's so different now . . . " and nothing else. At this Caroline looked at me and began to cry, and eventually both of them disappeared, and I awoke.

I was climbing blocks of cement to get to an elevated State highway. There were no cars, no people, only wind through the road and the long yellow wildgrass all around. I was likely somewhere in NE Colorado, a place I have never been.

I spoke with Caroline on the phone, a flip phone like I had in elementary school. We were talking about nothing, shooting the bull like friends do, until I remembered that she was dead, and I started telling her how it made me feel sad. Neither of us noticed the contradiction, the impossibility of this phone call.

Lately I have been listening to a few songs by Sufjan Stevens over and over. I think there is a sense of wisdom in his grief songs that I've yet to absorb : it quivers at the border of some membrane it does not want to pass through. I don't think this is mere rumination. What I think is I'm meant to pay you honor in some way greater than I have. This is my charge, and it's no good trying to go against it anymore. Next month it will have been three years since your mouth filled with foam and you stopped speaking. I'm proud that you stuck it out for so long and I forgive you. Yet I am in pain and I miss you.

Entry # : 008
Title   : Rave
Time    : 12.15.2023, 6:14PM
Listning: *Guitar Pop Crazy!*
Status  : Looking up, glancing forward

On Saturday the 9th of December I went to see the new Miyazaki film, The Boy and the Heron, with Rae and Mia. Its beginning really touched me. The imagery of emptiness softly illustrates Mahito's silent grief and sense of alienation. And then, for a moment, this gentle compositional language is crushed as he drives a rock into the side of his head, pooling the grass with blood. Given what came before, in Miyazaki's œuvre and in this film's opening especially, this direct expression of agony came as a total shock to me, and at once I felt sorry and felt Mahito's sorrow more deeply.

From here Mahito turns his violence outward and fixates upon killing the Heron ; though after the stone-bashing it is hard not to read this outwardfacing violence as still directed inward in part. More than that, though, his fruitless attempts to kill the Heron struck me as a desire to master death, considering that the Heron is a guide to enter the dreamworld of the dead ; considering also that he is a monster ; and considering the ancient moan, the death-rattle of his voice that troubles the border between speech and noise. OK, so the Heron becomes a target of Mahito's violence as testament to his burning hatred of death ; but . . . Mahito's mother is dead. Maybe, by the baggy transitive logic of dreams, we can triangulate a repressed resentment of his dead mom through his relationship with the Heron, a feeling so upsetting that it is never addressed directly in the film, left as a void. When Mahito eventually and with great reluctance kinda-sorta befriends the Heron, it is part of his learning to accept death.

While all in all this was definitely not one of my favorite Ghibli films (loved the real world, didn't find the dreamworld as evocative), I really resonated with its message about grief : That when we lose someone we love, at first we may resent their being dead, only cherishing them for their former aliveness, but over time we can learn to love them again as a dead person. And that this is a very, very hard thing to do.

After the movie, we walked around the outdoors mall a bit. Some acapella group sang a Christmas song in the central courtyard, then disappeared off somewhere, and there were various vendors in their booths selling stickers, crochet plushies, earrings, stuff like that. One of them gave us each a free holographic sticker. One booth's sole reason for existence was to give out little paper cups of hot cocoa. We each took one and cheers'd.

☐   ☐   ☐

An hour after Rae dropped me off, Hen picked me up and we rode from my highdensity suburb along a series of intricately interlaced freeways to Los Angeles for a rave. I spotted some cool graffiti on our way there ! The second one is my favorite ; I think it looks like some sort of angelic sigil.

The rave was listed as being at a "secret location in DTLA" to be sent out the day of. When we got there, there were three different queues, one of which was for a furry rave. The little bit of that queue I saw was bereft of fursuits, though I did catch a kemonomimi hairband and fuzzy legwarmers. For our part, we were there to see CFCF. Opening set started at 10pm, which is the latest starttime for any musicthing I've been to, but then again the only thing close to this I'd been to was an electronic music concert with George Clanton in San Diego this last April. That had a totally different vibe to it, though, drawing a more standoffish indie crowd. The BPMs being slower, people shoulderswayed or lunged in long vectors through the wavelike mosh pit. (I stayed out of the fray for the most part, except when, during "Fucking Up My Life," George took to the floor and rammed about. I got tripped up on his mic cable a few times lol. There's a vague sort-of throughline here, btw : that song's studio recording features Neggy Gemmy, who was the opening DJ that ninth of December 2023.)

Here, with BPMs hovering around 150, the crowd movement involved more specific articulations : a language of lancing hands sometimes describing airborne shapes that melt away almost as soon as they form layered atop a rolling leftright backandforth. Though I had come for CFCF and did really enjoy his set, in the end I preferred Neggy Gemmy's, if mostly for this portion of it that had a Shibuya-Kei–esque mix of energetic hip-hop samples treated with recordscratching. The day after I found myself longing to hear it again, not even remembering what it sounded like exactly, as it existed now only as an imperfectly preserved, perfumey wisp.

It was a great night, and now I want to do more stuff like that. After the show, Hen and I talked about the show for while excitedly, and some of that conversation I've recapped to you here. Anyway, I hope you all are doing well !! OK I've got to do some Christmas shopping ! *(*´∀`*)☆

Entry # : 007
Title   : Christmas / Cassettes
Time    : 12.08.2023, 12:35PM
Playing : *The World Ends With You* on my 3DS
Listning: "Rough Gem" by Islands
Status  : Excited ^_^

Happy December everybody ! Owing to a strange schedule, it is my Saturday. Last night I finished up my family Christmas list to be posted on the fridge. What I'm most excited for is a DVD of Azumanga Daioh, which Rae, her sister, and I want to watch together. Last year for Christmas I got the DVD of Nichijou, and we all watched it and loved it. Supposedly Azumanga is pretty similar in some ways. Anyway, one thing I didn't put on my list cos it seems kind of hard to shop for is a new tape player.

I used to have an old Sony one. I guess it was called a PressMan — that's what the internet says — but I never called it that. The machine was bulbous, chunky (maybe a little remniscent of the designs of some bulgy CRT monitors), and the size of a small purse, so it wouldn't fit in your pocket like the more famous WalkMan, but it had a handle and pretty good speakers to my ear ! Music sounded very crispy on it, and you could hear the hot rolling hum of the amplified spinnyparts. Lovelycharming !

It was originally my dad's. He had used it early on in his career to record himself and listen back on it to improve, but not for music I don't think. Me, I would use it to listen to music tapes I got from Goodwill and later on from this tape-store run out of a big van in an artsy so-called antimall near me.

I listened to that tape player while walking my old dog Bailey (rest in peace) or while biking around with my friends, and with Leo, my then-bf, now-ex-bf, as we sat up in the limbs of a high tree in a park near his house. But one day in 2015 it fell down out of that tree and broke.

I have bought replacements twice since then, both really cheap. The first one was really glitchy and died fast. So the only one I have now is this beigewhite boxy thing I dont even think was meant to play music — I'm pretty sure it's for loading and recording data casettes for computer storage ? Which is kinda super cool in its own right but the sound is sooo flat even when I hook it up to a better speaker.

Well I sure spilled a lot of virtual ink on that –,–'

Back to Christmas Topics. Take a look at the Christmas decorations at Rae's house !

All those bears sing when you squeeze their paws, btw. The best one sings a cover of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." They're really good.

I hope my family can go get our Christmas tree tonight. Hope everyone has a good day today. Bye for now ! ヾ(˶ᵔ ᗜ ᵔ˶)

Entry # : 006
Title   : Laksa
Time    : 10.25.2023

On a whim (or more like following an incessant and basically characteristic urge) I left work on VTO right after I had arrived. I wanted to do something aimless that I might otherwise object to, as on my weekends I usually feel I should be reading, writing, or spending time with friends. It was a big weight off to have a day where I wasn't troubled with the task of doing something decidedly fun or productive. Sometimes it's nice to have a diminished sense of purpose -- or at least a less immediate and rigidly understood one. I travelled a half hour to a library in Long Beach to scan pages from some volumes collecting "Antient" depictions of Vietnam by the French that I had flipped through three years ago.

I parked a half mile from my destination, at a Borneo eatery where I ordered laksa and a hot shaken coffee as the shade of winter had recently deepened. On the one-page laminated menu the laksa was listed as Singapore Laksa, but I believe the dish is better known by the more local, more granular toponym Katong Laksa, Katong being the neighborhood in Marine Parade, SG where after first itinerantly hawking the dish about MP from a pair of buckets on shoulder yoke Janggut began renting a then-waterfront stall on East Coast Road with his family. Later the Marine Parade Land Reclamation contravened the street name by pushing the actual coastline south a half a km., part of a widescale terraforming project which has successfully grown the island-nation to one and a quarter of its original size. His shop has relocated a few times but always remained on East Coast Road. Anyway, regardless of ECR's unfortunate estrangement from the shore, the dish remains sweet and seafaring, perfectly befitting the islands of S'pore and Borneo, and the portcity Long Beach. (For further reading about the origin of the dish, Russel Wong at thewonglist has written a history that is really extensive, well-researched, and interesting, and from which I drew some of my info for this post.)

The laksa I had differed from classic Katong Laksa in that it did not have thick rice noodles (though they were available upon request). Instead the waiter unbidden advised the egg noodles and I assented. Laksa broth runs the gamut of the longer end of the visible light spectrum: deep crimsons, irradiate yellows, milky whites... Uncle Fung's was orange with the red of chili solute. The broth tasted of three distinct impressions: spicysweet from the chilioil, light seafoodtaste from the prawnstock, and the sucrose fattiness of the coconut milk. It was impressively well balanced so that no one aspect overpowered the others while the overall flavor was quite strong. Though like any other superrich food, my enjoyment tailed off at the end; this was more of an issue here since the servingsize was dauntingly big.

But the first thing I noticed about Uncle Fung's Singapore Laksa was actually the smallest: a scattering of driedshrimp powder sat atop the bed of noodles and bean sprouts. Despite being the smallest part of the dish by weight and size, the way that dry, finegrained (sandy?) texture contraposed the general wetslipperyliquid nature of everything else was really fun, clever, and made a substantial impact. It's the same thing that makes eating softserve alongside a cinammondusty churro so appealing, but in a totally different context.

At first I struggled to enjoy the fishcake, which was intriguingly thin as slivers of narutomaki, and as plainwhite: fish minced and shaped and colored in such a way that it no longer resembles animal substance. For whatever reason, fishcake usually tastes more fishy to me than plain old unminced fish, and this was no exception. But I soon found that the corn and broth in the right proportions would harmonize with the fishcake and create a startlingly beautiful chord of tastes.

The heart of the dish, I suspect, is in the shrimp (powdered and not), fishcake, and corn -- much more so than the fried tofu, chicken, and bean sprouts -- playing against the multilayer broth and one another: the result is arresting, suggestive, and masterful. All in all, Uncle Fung's Singapore Laksa really exceeded my expectations. Amazing winter fare :)

☐   ☐   ☐

Total nonsequitur I know but : "Teenager" by Camera Obscura feels like one of the best songs to dance to. Françoise Hardy–esque, that reverbstaccato chamberpop percussion, and the theremin, oh my gosh. And by the way Zach, did you know Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi was produced by fellow Glaswegian tweeër Stuart Murdoch? Still somehow the way Camera Obscura goes retro feels like it has more in common with Shibuya-Kei than does Belle & Sebastian. I mean can you honestly imagine Belle & Sebastian using a theremin like that? They don't genrehop quite so thoroughly. Alright, that's all, bye for now.

Entry # : 005
Title   : Fall
Time    : 09.02.2023

The first cold night in months arrived, announcing the passing of summer, I felt on my way to Rae's place, waiting the crosswalk's permitting glow. The cooler weather refreshed me, but since then my mood has become a little melancholy, colored by the season. "Autumn Leaves" feels appropriate: longheld notes and searching, searching out impossible destinations, fragile on the lisping tape.

Yesterday I went to a morning appointment located in a tucked away singlestory complex of office buildings. Usually after my appointments there I take a walk to the Japanese supermarket in the adjoining shopping center. Even if I don't buy anything, I like to have that space in my day to wander around and let my mind unspool. But I decided to break my routine to go across the street into a strip mall that faced a greybrick wall and got some pelmeni and cherry soda. I really enjoyed the deli, which had some misaligned or missing ceiling panels, a few striped dresses randomly for sale, and a couple of strange, handpainted murals depicting, in a slightly cubist style, widesmiling Anya Taylor-Joy-esque women enjoying each other's company.

Anyway, it was a nice, homey meal, and served on a styrofoam plate with a side of crunchy sliced pickle. (I have to admit, as a mostly rehabilitated picky eater raised by picky eaters, there is still a small list of very basic foods I haven't tried, pickles being one of them. Anyway they were good!)

And... I got some time off for this labor day so I'll actually have consecutive days off, what what!

Entry # : 004
Title   : Fish
Time    : 08.26.2023

Recently I went to the aquarium with S. We first met in 2018 in an English class (an intro to literary theory), and now that I think of it, she's the only collegefriend I've really kept in touch with. Not that there were too too many to start with: college was, more or less, the record low of my social life. And not for any particularly dramatic reason, it's just none of my old friends accompanied me to my new university, and on top of that the one I would be attending -- roundly condemned as a Commuter School -- was pretty antisocial in character, which character I had little trouble adapting myself to. Though this didn't come without attendant clawings of loneliness, from where I'm standing now, the immense mental spaciousness that kind of life afforded me had its own appeal.

S's funfact on the first day of English was that one of her life's aims is to catch a yellowfin tuna, which made an immediate impression on me weeks before we actually met. Amid the long slough of unrevealing and strictly nominally fun facts (mine included), she did nothing to disguise her passions from others.

Slowly we found ourselves befriended in a group including a self-styled Plant Dad and another student who worked in Animal Rescue. S and I would take turns drawing on a sheet of paper, hang out in the library basement, and visit this all but deserted Japanese garden together, the main draw of which was a populous koi pond, spending hours watching and feeding those fishes in the weak light that filtered through the foliage.

Anywho. After college S worked at the aquarium in the county over for a stint of time until she quit to shift her attention to her art business. So, she was in a position to share complimentary tickets, parking validation, and fishy knowledges with me ^,^

After spending the better part of a day staring at these guys I have determined that my favorite kinds of fish are probably the Big Littlefish. By this I mean, I prefer a fish impressive in size, but with surface physiology more remniscent of what you'd expect of tiny fishies (like disproportionately larger eyes, fins, and just a general cartoonish simplicity). In effect, the greater the LittleFishiness-Index:ActualFishSize ratio, the more I will like it.

Anyway, I guess that's the ramble for today lol. Hope you all have been well.

Entry # : 003
Title   : Where is my character?
Time    : 12.12.22
Feeling : Curious
Wondrng : What little bugs crawl under the rock of
          my affections?

I don't know where the core of my character is. I used to spend a lot of time trying to be smart, to do things which would make me see myself as smart. But I don't really care for that feeling anymore — I don't want to impress anybody like that. It can feel strange when you leave behind things that used to be such a big part of you. To think I can never care about that like I once did, is kind of sad, even if I think I am being more true to myself now.

Nowadays I spend a lot of time thinking about my favorite things: The Digimon Movie, the films of Wong Kar-Wei, the novels of Haruki Murakami, Homestuck, Twee Pop, Jeventio (the Jevil x Dimentio crackship), certain forms of fashion. While I truly see something worthwhile in everything I have listed, it seems kind of silly for that to be the core of my identity. It just feels like a bunch of things, like if I staked my identity on Coca Cola and chia pets. Yesterday my friend said to me, "people seem to define themselves increasingly by minutiae." I don't know how problematic that really is, though it can produce a feeling of general offline loneliness when you can't find people who are hyperfixating on the same topics as you. Still, I really like getting obsessed with art/media, and when others are too, from hobbyists to academics. There was this quote I read in highschool from some scientist that when you love something, it is very easy to pay attention to it. So I think paying close attention to something — appreciating its small details (which is what minutiae are, really, when you take out the negative connotation) — feels like a good thing to me. Feels like love.

But I also think sometimes I can lose myself in the turbulence of my affections, toward people or toward art/media. That turbulence can be dizzying: like a tornado it can pick me up and set me down somewhere else, leaving me all turned around and confused. So while the things we love might say something about us, in the psychoanalytic sense of providing an insight into our unconscious, they can also be a way that we forget about ourselves, and outsource our selfexpression to someone else, or somewhere else (meaning, a fictional world).

Okay, now I will talk about the more "real things": the more unadulterated experiences I love: missing and longing for those I care about, the warmth of being among friends and saying my feelings to them, the feeling I get when I eat a really tasty meal. But by themselves, these experiences are not enough either. In each of these things, I can see a distinct part of myself, but something is missing.

So maybe I feel artistic, because the core of my character feels like its somewhere DancingInBetween all the things I love the most. It's something that I can feel, and sometimes see, DancingInBetween everything I love and want to show the world. Pinning a word on something like that is hard: I don't think there is a readymade word to describe such a thing. Anyway, maybe the problem of locating one's character is general, and the domain of the human soul is just too expansive for a survey of its borders to be carried out.
P.S.: This post was inspired by a post made by backtolife on hatenablog. You can check out his writing here !

Entry # : 002
Title   : Kindergarten
Time    : 12.02.22

When I was in kindergarten, I would often get my card pulled, usually for talking with my friend Hannah, or laughing too much. There was no real consequence for this except that other students could see the yellow card under my name, where formerly a green card hung. For the extra fun I got to have, that seemed like a pretty good trade to me.
Today I miss kindergarten. If I made mistakes, it was okay. All I had to do was get through the school year and everyone would be extraordinarily happy with me. It felt like people were really proud of me.

Entry # : 001
Title   : The girl with the glass eye
Time    : 12.01.22
Listning: "Hey, Hey Girl"
Mood    : Wistful

When I was a kid my parents forced me to do one of the group kid activities at the rec center each summer. I guess the idea was that I needed exercise, and to socialize with other kids? I had a couple school friends but I didn't really see much of them in the summer. With an air of indifference and pre-emptive boredom I chose to attend tennis camp. This was 2nd grade.

Anyway, during my time there, I made a friend whose name I have since forgotten. She was tall (or taller than me at the time by around half a foot probably), lanky but not slight, and naturally tan. Her face at once emanated a warm goodnaturedness and dry humor. Her hair was straight, black, and worn in a ponytail. She was a couple years older than me, in 4th grade, but she was the closest person I had to a friend in that place; we would spend our lunches together, I think. I remember pouring our sodas's leftovers into the giant trees outside the tennis courts, imagining it could turn their bark different colors if we did it every day to the same couple trees. The trees never did change hue, of course; we couldn't change the world.

One day at lunchtime she told me she had to clean off her glass eye. I had never noticed anything different about her eye the whole time I knew her, nor had I ever heard of such a thing as a glass eye existing. Another of the few things I remember was being made fun of, and her standing up for me. After she told the guy off, he didn't bother me again, and I felt a kind of adoration and admiration toward her. I don't think anyone else ever stood up for me after that. Not when I got called the f-slur in elementary or middle school, not when I got slammed up against lockers in front of passersby and acquaintances waiting for the class we were all in, nor when I got kicked out of nowhere and fell on the ground crying in front of my friends.

No, that was the one time someone stood up for me — at least until relatively recently, but that's another story. Did she realize I could never forget something like that? If she hadn't intervened — without giving me that molecule of hope — would I have become a bleaker person?

I wish I knew more about what our friendship was like. What was it based on: what did we talk about? But try as I might I can hardly remember anything: so much of those memories have turned to a thick mud. Well that was 2005, now it's 2022. We who were once 7 and 9 are 24 and 26. Lately I have wondered many times what became of her. What kind of career does she have? Is her life full of friends? Or perhaps she had many friends in highschool and college, but moved to a new city once she began working, and has had trouble making new ones. To be honest I wish we could be friends still.

The other day I randomly saw a girl posting about her glass eye in an Indie Pop community, and I felt really excited at the prospect that it could be the same person, but it turned out it wasn't. Though I have no way of getting in touch with her, still I wonder if I will ever be able to reconnect with the girl with the glass eye that I once considered my friend. And if I could, would she remember me?

"There's ghosts in your mind

Saying everything's great

Everything's fine

Hey, hey, girl

Hey, hey girl..."